NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is predicting a colder and wetter than average winter for the Northwest, and a warmer and drier winter for most of the South and Southeast. (Click on this URL for article: http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20101021_winteroutlook.html.) A moderate to strong El Nina will influence weather patterns across most of the United States.
The American Public Health Association has some wonderful “Get Ready” information on their web site, including a reminder especially for this weekend (March 14, 2010). Their “Set your clocks/check your stocks” campaign encourages us all to conduct an inventory of our business and personal disaster supplies whenever we set our clocks forward or back for Daylight Savings Time. Check their site for lots of downloads available in PDF for stockpiling supplies for all types of groups and situations. They address all hazards, not just health-related ones like influenza. You can even customize their information with your own logo and information.
We have heard from Jie Li, Assistant Director for Collection Management at the Biomedical Library, University of South Alabama in Mobile, that her library held a very successful table-top exercise prior to a predicted snow storm recently. While a few inches of snow is not an emergency in the northern states where there’s snow removal equipment and snow tires on people’s cars, it can be paralyzing in a state that has not historically needed to be prepared for it. Jie is the State Coordinator for Alabama on NN/LM’s Southeast Atlantic (SE/A) Region’s Emergency Preparedness & Response Committee, and she used her experience as an emergency preparedness planner to apply the service continuity techniques promoted by NN/LM to her library’s exercise, with very positive results.
- they made sure that a librarian working from home would have vendor information and the usernames and passwords necessary to trouble-shoot any access issues for their electronic resources
- their Technology Librarian would be able to upload messages to the library’s home page about changes to hours and service provision from home, and also sent instructions about using chat, email, etc. for providing reference services
- the ILL librarian shut down ILL lending and would access DOCLINE from home for borrowing. Access to ILLiad was also enabled from the librarian’s home.
- they made plans for scheduling virtual reference desk hours, to be provided from librarians’ homes
- they sent their completed Pocket Plans (PReP) and current telephone tree lists to everyone via email
Jie reported that the exercise helped them be prepared for the storm, which did close the library for part of the next day. They were ready and able to provide virtual reference help and continued access to their electronic resources, as well as communicating to their patrons what the library’s hours would be and how to get help. Many thanks to Jie for sharing their experience with us. Hearing such great success stories is an inspiration to all of us involved in emergency preparedness and response, and reminds us that it takes only a bit of planning and communication to turn a potential emergency into a win-win situation for the library and its patrons.
Ready.gov has developed some great tools to assist us with our own personal preparedness measures. Completing their suggested plans will go a long way toward preventing us, our families, and even our pets from becoming victims who need rescuing rather than people who are prepared to deal with an emergency and provide help to others, whether it’s our neighbors or our work place and patrons who need help.
Especially check out the “My Family Emergency Plan.” Clicking on the “Go” link there pulls up a sequential form you can fill out and which will result in a PDF document you can download and/or print for your family. (My only problem with it is that there is enough room for only two pets, and I will have to add our third dog and our four horses as my children, which is perfectly fitting given the lives they lead.) At the end of the emergency plan is the opportunity to print out emergency cards for family members to carry. Very cool tools!
Thanks to a newsletter I received today from Heritage Preservation, I learned about a new online, free course offering from the Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) called “Preservation 101.” The class is aimed specifically toward librarians and other caretakers of cultural resources who work in small and moderate-sized libraries or organizations. (A link to NEDCC is also located on the toolkit in the right column under “Comprehensive Disaster Plan Training,” the North East section.)
As a side note, I recommend that people sign up to be on the mailing list for Heritage Preservation if they are interested in conservation and preservation activities or current awareness ofnthe topic. The emails I receive from them are few and far-between and are always contain articles or information relevant to our interests in emergency preparedness.
Suggestion #14: Communication information. The heart of your disaster plan will be your communication procedures and information. Thinking through the process and gathering the needed information ahead of time can save valuable moments in an emergency.
You might create a summary page to begin your Communication section that includes:
- a protocol for communication: a telephone tree and/or the voice mail message on your main incoming phone
- instructions about how communication to the media will be handled
- information about other sources of information, such as the institution’s web page and local TV and radio stations
Following the summary page, you can add the following, most of which probably already exist, perhaps in your Administration department, or with whomever handles your human resources and financial management:
- a list of all work and home phone numbers and addresses for staff (including a notice that all home contact information for staff is confidential, and cannot be shared with anyone outside the library)
- a list of phone numbers for important contact people or departments outside your library, such as your facilities management, environmental services, housekeeping, etc.
- a list of contact information for your most important vendors, such as publishers
- contact information for other libraries in your region that might be called upon for support in an emergency
This quote was taken from a recent article in seattlepi.com. It’s from a member of an emergency preparedness commission who was asked to assess emergency preparedness in the Seattle area following last week’s wintry weather. As you read through the article, note once again the emphasis placed on the importance of communication during an emergency. This might be a good opportunity for all of us to revisit communication in our disaster plans. What sources will we use to receive information? How will we distribute information to our staff and patrons?